Bank of England Building Payments Network to Support a Potential Digital Pound

CoinDesk has learned the Bank of England's new settlement system is being built so it can be forwards compatible with a digital currency.

AccessTimeIconJul 30, 2020 at 2:13 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:38 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

The Bank of England's upcoming settlement service is being designed to support a possible central bank digital currency (CBDC).

  • CoinDesk has learned the BoE will ensure its redesigned real-time gross settlement service (RTGS), the payments network used by U.K. financial institutions, can be forwards compatible with CBDCs, such as a digital pound.
  • The new settlements system is being designed that the bank could "bolt on" a facility for digital currency transactions, should it decide to support a CBDC.
  • Modules for other future capabilities, as well as the digital pound, are also being considered for the upcoming settlement system.
  • RTGS is a key component in the U.K.'s financial infrastructure – it's where institutions hold their sterling accounts and acts as the main channel for the BoE to inject liquidity into the economy.
  • On average, RTGS settles more than £685 billion ($900 billion) worth of transactions each working day.
  • The BoE announced Thursday it had chosen Irish tech consultancy firm Accenture for a £150 million ($195 million) contract to redesign the payments network.
  • In a statement, Accenture said the new RTGS system would adapt to the changing financial system by providing access to more firms, as well as greater interoperability and functionality.
  • The new RTGS system is expected to go live in 2022.
  • Earlier this month, BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said the 400-year-old central bank was seriously considering whether to launch a CBDC.
  • Officials have previously said the BoE was open to the idea of private companies having a greater role in the issuance of a digital pound, insofar that they stick to the bank's design and policy principles.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.